Yesterday the Montreal Canadiens played like a team that was coming off of an intense series with their fiercest rivals. They had a prototypical let-down game and are down 1-0 in their Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers.
The lop-sided loss doesn’t look good, but the reality is that it is only one game in the series. The Canadiens were not going to likely sweep the series, and have plenty of time to bounce back.
I was at Game 3 of the Canadiens series against the Washington Capitals. The Canadiens were tied 1-1 in the series going into that game and they promptly laid an egg in their return to the Bell Centre to the tune of a 5-1 loss, chasing starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The next game, they lost 6-3. The Canadiens still managed to win the series.
That becomes a lot harder if Carey Price is seriously injured. Price collided with Rangers forward Chris Kreider and allowed two goals afterwards and didn’t really look 100 per cent. He didn’t skate at practice with the team but did take the ice earlier with goaltending coach Stephane Waite.
The Canadiens admitted that they weren’t necessarily ready for the Rangers and that, paired with an afternoon start where they typically struggle, didn’t make for a good combination. The good news is that is an easy fix. Despite not looking their best, they were still in the game with a minute to go in the second period.
The good news is that the Habs do have an easy move to make in order to add skill and speed to their lineup. Alex Galchenyuk is cleared for contact and had a conditioning stint on the ice after practice today. Therrien was coy when pressed for any possible news on the sophomore but I would be very surprised to see him sitting out in Game 2. I would expect Brandon Prust or Rene Bourque to be out. My money would be on Prust.
It will be very interesting to see how the Canadiens come out tomorrow night. It is a late start and most Montrealers will have not worked during the day. You can expect a raucous crowd for most of the afternoon downtown and that will translate into the building for puck drop.
A lot of the excitement will be tempered, though, if Price is not able to play. Therrien said they would announce to the media who will start tomorrow which may not be a good sign – that it wasn’t Price confirmed – or it could simply be mind games with the Rangers.